Business, Economics and Jobs

Japan tsunami: 500 mph waves and an all-consuming wall of sludge


The owner of a ceramic shop checks his damaged wares following the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Tokyo on March 11, 2011. The huge earthquake shook Japan, unleashing a powerful tsunami that sent ships crashing into the shore and carried cars through the streets of coastal towns.



This is aerial video of Japan's worst tsunami in more than a century.

Of all the footage that has appeared within hours of the disaster, this is probably the most unsettling: a seemingly miles-wide wall of brown sludge engulfing everything in its path.

The 8.9-magnitude quake has ravaged northern Japan, though Tokyo was largely spared. The quake triggered a 10-meter high tsunami that swept away everything in its path. At least 22 people have been killed and the Red Cross has issued a tsunami warning for the whole Pacific basin.

Both professional footage, like the airborne video shot by NHK, and amateur cell phone video is spreading like wild.

Here's video of...

... a panicked family fleeing their quaking home.

... scared shopkeepers and bottles flying off shelves in a supermarket.

... powerful waves batting around large ships like toy boats in a bathtub from Al-Jazeera.

The death toll, at this point, stands at 26. That will almost certainly rise. But once the damage has been estimated, it's likely the world will be impressed by how well Japan prepared itself for such a catastrophe. Early warning systems appear to have alerted many citizens in time. Most buildings withstood tremors.

Comparatively, a 7.9 magnitude quake in the 1923 killed more than 140,000 people, according to Al-Jazeera.

Eyes are now turning to the Philippines and Indonesia, where a tsunami is expected to arrive in about one hour. Natural disaster hit lesser-developed countries the hardest and both countries are requesting coastal dwellers move inland immediately.